Stop lavish Sikh weddings


by Sunny
30th July, 2007 at 3:30 pm    

This looks like one of the few times a major Sikh organisation has taken a progressive stance. [hat tip: Rumbold]

Sikh religious leaders have issued an edict to their community to end lavish weddings that involve days of revelry as a measure to discourage dowry demands. By enforcing austere weddings, the Delhi Sikh Temple Management Committee also hopes to prevent the outlawed but growing practice among Sikhs of aborting foetuses discovered to be female.

The Sikhs’ home state of Punjab has 793 females per 1,000 males, the lowest in the country as many female foetuses are aborted following ultrasound tests proscribed by law for several years.

Female foetocide is a huge problem in Punjab. The real problem of course is misogyny and the idea that women are ‘worth less’ than men. I don’t think its possible to deny that the cost of expensive weddings & dowry (which, though outlawed, persists) makes it into an economic issue that impacts how families welcome daughters. This is a good decision, although I don’t see it having much impact here or Canada, where Sikhs are known for massive weddings, simply because Gurudwaras are unlikely to listen until the head committee – the SGPC – says something similar. And they’re about as progressive as George Bush.


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  1. Riz — on 30th July, 2007 at 3:38 pm  

    ‘The Sikhs’ home state of Punjab has 793 females per 1,000 males’. That’s a shocking statistic.

    People respond to incentives and while the big dowry/wedding celebration is deeply embedded in tradition, it is an ugly feature of Asian tradition and needs to be moderated as much as possible. Damn, this doesn’t meld at all well with my laissez-faire, libertarian side, but what the hell. Sometimes people need to be told what’s what!

  2. Kismet Hardy — on 30th July, 2007 at 3:59 pm  

    Stop lavish sikh weddings?!

    As someone who earns his ciabatta and marmalade from Asian wedding mags, I feel compelled to disagree with the motion

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 30th July, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

    Oh just read what it’s about. Is tactless an inherent condition?

  4. Vikrant — on 30th July, 2007 at 6:28 pm  

    Ya Punjab sex ratio is sad… i’ve always had a soft spot for Punjabi chick :) .

  5. Don — on 30th July, 2007 at 6:55 pm  

    The Sikhs’ home state of Punjab has 793 females per 1,000 males’

    So more than a fifth of males will be unable to marry? And if the trend continues? What happens to a society where a third of males have to accept that they have no legitimate sexual partners?

    My mind is boggling. This beats oil as a cause of conflict.

  6. ZinZin — on 30th July, 2007 at 6:59 pm  

    The Sikhs’ home state of Punjab has 793 females per 1,000 males’

    What about Richard Desmond?

  7. Rumbold — on 30th July, 2007 at 10:16 pm  

    Ha ha ZinZin.

    What I want to know is why the Punjab’ male-female ratio is far worse than the other states. It cannot be to do with Sikhism, can it?

  8. Galloise Blonde — on 31st July, 2007 at 1:12 am  

    So more than a fifth of males will be unable to marry? And if the trend continues? What happens to a society where a third of males have to accept that they have no legitimate sexual partners?

    Polyandry is what happens. Check out Slideshow 3 from this site.

  9. Robert — on 31st July, 2007 at 2:56 am  

    I notice that Sikh’s are being advised to boycott all weddings that aren’t teetotal and end before noon.

    Wouldn’t it just be a lot easier to boycott all weddings that aren’t paid for 50-50 by the bride and groom’s families… Or am I missing something?

  10. Robert — on 31st July, 2007 at 2:56 am  

    May I apologise for the appalling use of an apostrophe in the last comment?

  11. KSingh — on 31st July, 2007 at 7:03 am  

    In Sikhism there is great emphasis on equality between male and female, in fact it was the first religion to state this and put in practical steps to make it happen. However Indian culture puts pressure on people putting on great events at weddings to show off. In fact since the ‘Bollywood’ culture has taken off things have got much worse. In the last decade if you do not put on a lavish wedding you are looked down on. This is after people have become more educated in Asia and have more wealth.

  12. Galloise Blonde — on 31st July, 2007 at 8:15 am  

    I just woke up and reaslised I should have put a warning on that slideshow, there are some disturbing photos in there. Sensitive souls, please avoid.

  13. Katy Newton — on 31st July, 2007 at 8:46 am  

    Oh, Robert. I don’t know what to say.

    I don’t think I can be around you right now. I’m sorry.

  14. Sahil — on 31st July, 2007 at 9:53 am  

    “However Indian culture puts pressure on people putting on great events at weddings to show off. In fact since the ‘Bollywood’ culture has taken off things have got much worse. In the last decade if you do not put on a lavish wedding you are looked down on. This is after people have become more educated in Asia and have more wealth.”

    I think that is correct. No religious or cultural group in India holds a monopoly on extravangence. ‘Bling’ culture seems to be seeping in everywhere (or was there already but now we have more cash) and self-control or modesty are so old-school.

    Here is an interesting thread on China’s issue with lob-sided demographics, its just as bad as Indias’(?) Katy don’t kick my ass =) :

    http://www.chinese-forums.com/showthread.php?t=6996

  15. sofia — on 31st July, 2007 at 10:11 am  

    somebody should have told Mittal the meaning of “extravagant” “tasteless” “chavtastic” (ok I don’t think the last one is in the dictionary…but seriously the guy spent millions on his daughter’s wedding…and she still looked like shi*te

  16. Robert — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:04 pm  

    In fact since the Bollywood culture has taken off things have got much worse.

    Actually, I think that Bollywood might be leading the way here – not in combatting ‘bling’, but in the promotion of equality. Do you suppose that the lavish wedding between Abhi and Ash was sponsored entirely by the bride’s family!? I rather think that the Buchans would have contributed a little something towwards the ceremony too! I don’t think extravagance is a bad thing per se.

  17. Ind — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:13 pm  

    “Rumbold — on 30th July, 2007 at 10:16 pm
    Ha ha ZinZin.

    What I want to know is why the Punjab’ male-female ratio is far worse than the other states. It cannot be to do with Sikhism, can it?”

    Dont be a fool, I’de be very surprised Female foeticide is condoned by any religion. Its more to do with what uneducated people percieve as the ‘value of’, a son over a daughter. In these changing times we know better, unfortunately in the developing world they dont.

  18. Rumbold — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:16 pm  

    Ind:

    I knew that it was nothing to do with Sikhism, but nobody has come up with an explaination of why the Punjab ratio is far worse than other states. Any suggestions?

  19. sahil — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:34 pm  

    Rumbold don’t be so silly there is not much of a difference, if anything measurement error can account for a lot of regional variations. Unfortunately this phenomena seems to be a national or even Asian (All of Asia) problem. Highly patriarchal societies simply at the moment do not value women, multiplied by the amplitude of bride wealth and we have a disaster in the making. Read the link I added to my previous post for more detail.

  20. Rumbold — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:39 pm  

    I fail to see why pointing out the difference is silly.

    793 per 1000 as opposed to 933 is a big difference. Though measurement might account for part of it, I cannot believe that the margin of error would be this high.

  21. Ind — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:39 pm  

    The desire for a son and heir coupled with the notion that a male can help farm the land and continue to do so longterm are just some of the reasons.

    Farming being the number one earner in Punjab, farmers have a misconception that girls will be a drain on wealth, and as the point of this thread states, lavish weddings (and the appalling dowry system that comes with them) doesnt help the situation for the poor.

  22. sahil — on 31st July, 2007 at 3:43 pm  

    Rumbold #20 yes it can. If you go to the Indian federal bank of India:

    http://www.federalbank.co.in/

    You can try and find statistics about population and they themselves stress the problems with data collection. It is really a massive problem in LDCs. My friend is right now working in Haiti with the worldbank and data collection is the bane of his life.

  23. Rumbold — on 31st July, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

    Okay Sahil; unless someone comes up with a better reason, I will accept the margin of error theory.

    Ind:

    Surely farming is widespread in most Indian states?

  24. Bleh — on 31st July, 2007 at 4:17 pm  

    Surely we’re missing the bigger point here – a ratio of 793 females per 1000 males, or even 893 per 1000 is, in the medium term at least, totally unsustainable, no matter the percentage of local affordable GDP spent on weddings?

  25. KSingh — on 31st July, 2007 at 6:40 pm  

    ‘I knew that it was nothing to do with Sikhism, but nobody has come up with an explaination of why the Punjab ratio is far worse than other states. Any suggestions?’

    Seems to be a North Indian issue , the neighbouring state of Haryana has similar ratio and that is 90%Hindu. Delhi and Uttar Pradesh also have poor ratios. The ratio is worst amongst wealthy and often educated people who can afford the ultrasounds and abortions.

  26. Jai — on 31st July, 2007 at 7:20 pm  

    I knew that it was nothing to do with Sikhism

    The notion of this happening amongst Sikhs at all is even more horrific considering the fact that the practice was explicitely outlawed and condemned by the Sikh Gurus, to the extent that they stated people should actually refuse to associate with those who engaged in female foeticide (one of the few occasions when, to all intents and purposes, the Gurus declared anyone should be treated as pariahs). It was something they were vehemently, unequivocally opposed to.

    How effective the “edict” turns out to be remains to be seen, but the logic behind it is actually sound. An admirable and inspirational decision on the part of the Sikh committee concerned.

  27. The Dude — on 31st July, 2007 at 10:01 pm  

    I hate weddings. Mine was horrific! We spent money like it was going out of fashion before the Big Day and was piss poor the day after. You can keep your Big Bling weddings.

  28. justagal — on 1st August, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    I agree with Sunny’s point about misogyny being the real underlying reason for female foeticide. After all, even in affluent socities where families can and do pay expensive dowries, the birth of a boy child is still more of a cause for celebration that of a girl,
    one can but wonder what the response might be in if they were poor.

  29. Ind — on 2nd August, 2007 at 10:59 am  

    I know someone who works for a Human Rights organisation actively trying to address the issue of female foeticide in India and particularly Punjab, and have been told this practise is far worse in the Citys as opposed to the villages. Also, in terms of religion %, its not actually the Sikhs who are the worst offenders.

  30. Jai — on 2nd August, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    Also, in terms of religion %, its not actually the Sikhs who are the worst offenders.

    Ind, could you please supply the relevant statistics if available.

  31. Bleh — on 2nd August, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    I hate weddings. Mine was horrific! We spent money like it was going out of fashion before the Big Day and was piss poor the day after. You can keep your Big Bling weddings.

    I know how you feel. The better half and I have decided that if we take the plunge, we’re doing it in Venice.

  32. nobody hero — on 4th August, 2007 at 5:20 am  

    So only european women have a right to abortion.If a women choses to terminate her pregnancy for what ever reason, what concern is it of yours sunny mr liberal .

  33. nobodys hero — on 4th August, 2007 at 8:51 pm  

    The Record number of abortions has made the uk a world leader in foetus termination.Resulting in a crisis with the birth rate. The need for mass immigration.

  34. Don — on 4th August, 2007 at 9:44 pm  

    Reliable abortion rates are hard to pin down, but UK rates at around 17 per thousand are high compared to the rest of western Europe (Holland and Belgium at around 10 and 11 per thousand.) They aren’t that high by world standards at 26 per thousand, and scarcely record breaking with Russia at around 62, and Vietnam at around 44.

    But I agree that declining birth rates do mean that we need a steady supply of new people.

  35. El Cid — on 5th August, 2007 at 9:56 am  

    I love weddings

  36. nobody hero — on 6th August, 2007 at 10:03 pm  

    Who are you tell people how to spend thier money, Live your own life’ The SGPC – they’re about as progressive as George Bush. I Dont rememeber SGPC Starting any wars in iraq or afghanistan.Nor allow condom use in aid ridden Africa . Sunny , you have such an anti sikh agenda . Even a postive sikh story you try to turn it in a negative
    Ps George Bush like you self(sunny)is anti abortion

  37. bananabrain — on 10th August, 2007 at 1:01 pm  

    i love weddings but mine was just ridiculously expensive. once you factor everything in we wouldn’t have got a lot of change out of £40K and that was with just over 200 guests. sikhs aren’t the only ones who need to address this stupid stupid stupid issue. i’d far rather have spent 25% as much and used the money to do up the house.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

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